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Planter Performance & Confection Sunflower

Sunday, February 1, 2009
filed under: Planting Systems

During his oil-type sunflower planter performance presentation at the 2009 NSA Research Forum, University of Nebraska-Scottsbluff agricultural engineer John Smith also provided an update on his 2007 test results with confection sunflower seeds. Those results were initially reported in the January 2008 issue of The Sunflower.

At the forum, Smith discussed the following confection seed spacing issues found during the 2007 testing, and provided recommendations for dealing with them:

Seed parts sticking in holes of Case IH 1200 planter plates — This is not a frequent or serious problem, Smith says; but he has seen it happen and likewise has visited with producers who have experienced it. The sunflower plates for this unit have 24 holes, so if a single hole plugs, field seed population is reduced by about 4%.

In visiting with Case IH engineers, Smith learned they do not have a knockout or extractor and are not currently working on one — although they are aware of this occasional issue with confection sunflower. For now the best advice, Smith says, is to watch very carefully the seed population on your monitor. “If you have one row that is about 4% (or a multiple of 4) less seed population than the other rows, remove the plate and check for a plugged hole.”

Poor seed spacing with the Deere MaxEmerge vacuum planter — Smith compared a 20-cell flat plate A52391 with a 40-cell plate, both at 4.5 mph, with 8” water vacuum and 3/4 of the hole covered with the doubles eliminator. The CP3 rating with the 20-cell plate was 48%, compared to 42% with the 40-hole plate. Thus, his recommendation is to use a 20-cell flat plate with confection ’flowers to improve seed spacing slightly.

Smith likewise suggests producers experiment with a Precision Planting plate and accessory option. Also of benefit would the use of a planter monitor with individual seed spacing accuracy capabilities. While he’s not in the business of endorsing specific products, Smith does indicate that the 20/20 Seed Sense™ unit from Precision Planting is the only such unit currently on the market.

Deere seed tube plugging — This was a consistent issue with long (3/4”), narrow confection seeds. When it does occur, it can be serious. In the Scottsbluff tests with the long confection seeds, about once in every 5,000 seeds, one would stick crossways in the seed tube. Though the tube would not plug, ensuing seeds would hit the lodged seed, leading to very inconsistent spacing. Meanwhile, the planter monitor would not sense anything wrong since the correct number of seeds were still passing by the sensor in the seed tube.

The solution is a wider seed tube. Both Deere and Kinze have one, Smith notes. In test stand experiments with these wider tubes, he found the following (all run at 4.5 mph, A5290 20-cell plate, 8” vacuum):

• Standard Deere Clear Tube A84520: CP3 of 55%, ‘Wide’ Spacing of 2%, ‘Close’ Spacing of 6%.

• Kinze Wide Tube GA12636: CP3 of 60%, ‘Wide’ Spacing of 2%, ‘Close’ Spacing of 4%.

• Deere Wide Tube A56786: CP3 of 48%, ‘Wide’ Spacing of 2%, ‘Close’ Spacing of 7%.

Smith ran the standard Deere tube long enough to plug three times (across a total of about 10,000 of the long, narrow seeds). Neither the wide Deere tube nor the wide Kinze tube plugged at all.

Unacceptable spacing with finger pickup — Based on his trials, Smith says the finger pickup is not an acceptable planter for quality confection sunflower seed spacing. There were excessive skips in particular with longer confection seeds. Precision Planting’s finger assembly and backing plate aided spacing accuracy, “but we still exceed 10% skips with the best combination we tested,” Smith reports. The size of the seed exit hole in the backing plate can also make a difference, with the larger being better.

Watch video clips of John Smith discuss his test results.

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